Tribal forest decoupled from federal management practices

This article from the Coos Bay World explains that the 5,400-acre Coquille Tribal Forest in Oregon is no longer “coupled” to BLM management practices — including Northwest Forest Plan restrictions on harvesting. Maybe the agencies ought to consult with the tribe as it considers revising the Northwest Forest Plan.

For the first time in a century and a half, the Coquille Indian Tribe is preparing to manage its forest land by its own rules. Under federal legislation signed in January, the tribe no longer must follow the “standards and guidelines” of federal agencies.

“Now the tribe can begin to lay the foundation for forest management for generations to come,” said Darin Jarnaghan, the tribe’s natural resources director.

The likely result? Increased timber production. A more flexible, sensible approach to environmental protection. Attention to a wide range of species instead of just a few.

“Our focus is on a holistic, balanced approach to forest management,” said Colin Beck, the tribe’s forest manager. “We don’t want to provide for timber harvest while ignoring the needs of the ecosystem, or manage for one or two species while ignoring other management goals. Our goal is to provide a sustained level of timber harvest while still meeting the needs of all of the species that call the forest home.”

According to the article, some changes may include:

• Stream buffers will become more sensible. Instead of arbitrarily banning harvest within 220 feet of a stream, the tribe will capitalize on scientific studies showing responsible ways to use varying buffers.

• The harvest system likewise will be more flexible. Instead of designating broad no-cut zones, the tribe may cut individual trees, or select clumps of trees to be left as wildlife habitat.

• In keeping with ancestral practices, some areas will be managed for multiple resources. Instead of focusing solely on marketable timber, the tribe values plant species such as bear grass, hazel and camas, all used for food or basketry material.


7 thoughts on “Tribal forest decoupled from federal management practices”

  1. Here it comes again; environmental destruction, quite possibly even disaster, all dressed up in todays “chic” – native indian “knowledge”.
    And try delightful innate, born on the land, born ecologist insights and approaches;
    > such as, vary stream side buffers, which means cut right to waters edge;
    > AND more, yep, more logging. How ecologically insightful this that!!

    > And we all know environmental protection flourishes when multi use management is imposed on the land!

    ahh, and reverence for standards and guidelines! Nope, down want those – thats white mans talk! How trumpian is this?

    > and “sustainable yield” (of logs, of course) while meeting every one / things need? Right our of the FS or BLM notebook.

  2. Info on on the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act from the BLM is here. And this is an excerpt from an article on the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act from the Siuslaw News:

    In a rare example of bipartisan law making, House Resolution (HR) 1306, The Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act, will convey more than 32,000 acres of land, currently under federal control, to three tribal entities in western and southern Oregon.

    The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in the summer of 2017 and the Senate approved the bill by voice vote for delivery to the President on Dec. 27, 2017.

    HR 1306 provides for conveyance of land to three of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes.

    The Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act would place 17,519 acres of federal land, currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM) into trust for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and 14,742 acres of federal land into trust for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians.

    It would also amend the Coquille Restoration Act to require the Interior Department to manage the Coquille Indian Tribes’ forestlands in the same way as other tribal forestlands.

  3. “Our goal is to provide a sustained level of timber harvest while still meeting the needs of all of the species that call the forest home.” That is essentially the same thing that NFMA/FLPMA and the Northwest Forest Plan say. It will be interesting to follow how their planning process assures this, and whether in fact they increase timber harvest.

  4. Here are some pictures from Coquille Tribal logging BEFORE they freed form the constraints of the Northwest Forest Plan.

    Also of note, I understand the Coquille Tribe was found to be in contempt of court for failing to follow the Aquatic Conservation Strategy of the Northwest Forest Plan.

    • 2nd Law,

      There isn’t anything unusual in the photos you sent, except that some of the trees are perhaps a bit larger than the USFS or BLM might cut in that region. One the whole — though it is difficult to judge from photos alone — the practices shown in the photos seem to follow the tribe’s forest-management goals, described on the tribe’s web site. I’d like to see aerial or satellite imagery of the tribe’s ownership, which would help us understand what they’ve done with their lands to date.

      Harvest and Habitat

      Today, the Coquille Tribe’s vision for our forests calls for a varied landscape, with stands of trees in differing densities and ages. Diverse plant species create habitat for equally diverse wildlife. Meadows and grasslands, dominated by native plants, provide abundant forage. Continuous water quality monitoring and riparian protection ensure clear-running streams and prime aquatic habitat.

      One goal of the Tribe’s Natural Resources Department is to generate revenue through sustainable timber harvest. The department’s forestry program prepares timber units for sale, undertaking biological surveys and assuring harvest levels comply with the Coquille Forest Resource Management Plan. The program also manages site preparation, pre-commercial and commercial thinning, and reforestation of harvested timber units.

      Certified Sustainability

      The Coquille Tribe’s excellence in land management has not gone unnoticed. After a rigorous evaluation process, employing internationally recognized standards, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified our Coquille and Sek-wet-se Tribal Forests as environmentally sound and sustainable.

      The FSC’s standards and principles provide the Tribe with a set of Best Management Practices (BMP) to follow when harvesting timber. Coquille timber is marketed to mills that likewise achieve FSC certification for their products. Regular audits confirm compliance, ensuring the sustainability of forest resources for future generations around the globe.

      FSC certification demonstrates the Coquille Indian Tribe’s commitment to our environment, our lands, our customers, and the future well-being of our community. We are committed to continuing and enhancing the forest practices embodied in the FSC certification process.

  5. Followup: Here’s a brief item from a recent FSC newsletter:

    11 September 2017
    Coquille Indian Tribe Manages for Multiple Values

    The Coquille Indian Tribe, with its 5,400 acre FSC-certified forest in the coastal range of Oregon, has been managing these lands for thousands of years. So it’s not surprising that the Tribe takes a long view. Deriving 20 percent of its general fund income from timber revenue, forest management is critical to the Coquille. In a region known for Douglas fir, the Coquille also place a premium on biodiversity, which is important to their culture. In addition, many of their traditional foods and materials rely on a variety of tree species, as well as age classes. Culturally significant species such as cedar and spruce thrive in their forest, alongside bear and elk.

    “Being able to manage the land not only for timber production, but also biodiversity, and species that aren’t commercially valuable, but are valuable to the Tribe, is important,” says Colin Beck, Coquille Tribe natural resources director.

    Recently, the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service developed a “conservation showcase” about the Coquille Tribe, including a video highlighting its forest management.


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